Vocabulary of Progress Your Voice

The national conversation as conduced in the commercial, mainstream media is one of business-as-usual. The objectives and references used are always growth related given the entrenched assumption that “more” is the only objective.

“More” is indeed a solution for most commercial entities but it is a false god when applied to the issues facing nations and human society in general. In part, the reason commercial metrics do not apply well to national issues is their time window. The firm operates with perhaps a 5 year horizon yet the nation must be able to look forward at least 3 or 4 generations.

The standard indicators of GDP growth, housing starts and job creation do nothing to illuminate the actual economic health of individuals or the nation.

If we are to begin to deal with the wide range of problems which face us as a society, then the terms of reference have to change from ones of eternal growth and maximum consumption. Metrics referring to long term stability and socially, environmentally and fiscally sustainable goals must take their place.

Our discussion moving forward must focus on the life span and health of the vital energy and resource bases upon which our society is based rather than simply measuring how quickly we are consuming them.

Below are the current core commercial economic terms and the new terms of reference we must start to focus on if we are develop the decision making structure of atruly sustainable society.

Commercial Measures – Quantity Counts

- GDP – size and growth rates
- Housing Starts – the more the better
- Job Creation – as many as possible regardless of wage or hours per week or benefits

Progressive National Policy Terminology – Quality Counts

Individual Well-being

- Vacation time
- Resources per capita
- income per hour
- living wage
- debt level to income

Free time and output per time worked determine individual economic well-being. The size of the economy or number of low wage jobs created are meaningless on an individual basis.

Social Welfare

- equality not GDP
- per capita income
- assets / capita not cash flow
- company index of equality (top 5% of incomes divided by bottom 5% of incomes)

A healthy society has a small number of poor and very rich and a large number of middle class individuals. Thus there is less of a requirement for complex social programs and massive income transfers. All people in all income levels benefit from a higher level of equality.

Fiscal Balance

- national accounts vs commercial accounts
- high paying jobs vs more jobs
- health not growth
- balance not size
- debtlevels, private, public
- percentage of jobs with a living tax positive wage

More jobs won’t balance budgets, only higher paying, more productive jobs will. The economy does not have to grow to achieve fiscal balance and size is irrelevant.

Environmental Health

- land saved not land paved
- energy positive houses not housing starts
- sustainable output not maximum consumption
- energy consumption reductions not production increases
- renewable energy/non-renewable energy ratio

Upgraded housing, reduced resource consumption, higher renewable energy output are measures of progress.

Resource Management

- scarcity
- life span of resource
- full life cycle costing
- energy input for unit of resource output
- quantity of resource at what energy inputs pre unit output

The future availability of resources and their energy cost per unit will be determined by resource policies today. Cost per unit and the quality of the resource are critical considerations.

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